10 cult classics you should never ever remake. Ever.

Contributed by
Jan 13, 2017

Yesterday we talked about cult movies that could be remade or given a sequel in 2017 and beyond without causing terrible aneurysms and blood in the streets. But let's be real -- there are plenty of cult classics that ought never to be touched again. Some of them are perfect and need no continuation or retread; some are simply too incurably of a time; and some are so bad that it's baffling they're cult classics at all.

Don't remake those. Don't even bury them. Just leave them where they lie.

You'd think this would be a much easier list to write. So many cult movies are good as they are and require no coda, no postscript, no "but what if ..." But the challenge is that so many of them already have been remade or are in the process of being remade. I'd say "Don't remake The Wicker Man," but ... oops. "The Rocky Horror Picture Show must be never be remade no matter what" is something I wish I'd said in time and/or that anyone would've listened.

So for a lot of cult classics, we're too late. It's a tragedy, but there's nothing we can do but hold our heads high and set our sights toward the future. And with that profound responsibility in mind, these are 10 cult movies that 100% should never ever be touched -- no sequels, no remakes, no nothing.

John Carpenter's The Thing (1982)

"But this is already a remake," you might be thinking. Yes. John Carpenter's The Thing is a remake, but it is the perfect retelling of that story. And while, yes, there are a lot of questions left unasnwered, that's kind of the charm, isn't it? We don't need to know about the other lab that was attacked by aliens (even though we found out in the 2011 prequel). We don't need to know who is still an alien. We don't need to know the fate of the human race after the credits roll. A narrative can be open-ended and still have a satisfying and complete ending. Not everything needs to become a franchise. The Thing is perfect. Don't touch it. Walk away slowly and go in peace.

Brazil (1985)

I probably could've just said "Don't remake any Terry Gilliam movies ever" instead of picking Brazil specifcially. However, since a lot of people have been talking about Brazil lately and the parallels they think they see between its dystopian Big Brother narrative and our present-day society, let me say this: Don't retell this story. If you think Brazil is so ahead of its time just get a 35mm print of it and put it up at the dollar theater for a month. You'll probably make some pretty good money.

Labyrinth (1986)

David Bowie is dead so don't make a sequel to Labyrinth, please. I don't care that Nicole Perlman is tapped to write it and I don't care how great you thought her Guardians of the Galaxy script was. Have her go make a sequel to a movie that didn't star David Bowie and his glorious ... balls. It's not even that Labyrinth is a great movie. Literally everybody hates "Chilly Down" so Labyrinth is not perfect by any means. But it is so intrinsically tied to David Bowie's performance as the Goblin King and the score he wrote that any attempt to continue or retell this story would be even worse than clown Bowie, aka Bowie's worst incarnation.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

This is a mercy. You're welcome. As it is, the fact that a million think pieces about how racially insensitive Big Trouble in Little China is don't already exist is a god damned miracle. Wait, are there a million think pieces? No. No. I'm not Googling that. And neither should you. The fact is that John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China was great in the '80s but would probably not play every well today. Any remake would be accused of being both problematic and pandering to SJWs simultaneously. It's not worth it. Let's move on.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

Once again, I think this is an example of a could-be franchise dying with one of its key players. Alan Rickman is too essential a part of Galaxy Quest's world to continue without him. You want to make Galaxy Quest comics? Go nuts. But, as has been said by smarter people than I, Galaxy Quest is a mathematically perfect film. Even though the idea of a TV series (as the movie suggests) sounds nice, it just would never be anywhere near as good as the absolute perfection that is Galaxy Quest.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Has any singular movie generated more merchandise than The Nightmare Before Christmas? Frankly, it's a miracle that there aren't a million sequels to this Tim Burton classic. But that's good, because neither Tim Burton nor anyone else involved in the original Nightmare would ever be able to dream up something this infectiously a part of the cultural zeitgeist. The visuals, the music, the wonder are all un-recapturable. Just watch it every holiday season and be grateful it exists at all.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

I put Killer Klowns on this list before I learned that the original creative team was planning on releasing a 3D sequel in 2018. So then I had to stop everything and think about whether or not I should change my mind about Killer Klowns from Outer Space being left alone for all time.

No. I shouldn't. I don't want to bag on anyone, but the people who made Killer Klowns didn't exactly go on to prove that they are amazing filmmakers capable of making a worthy sequel to one of the best clown movies ever created. Do you realize how unlikely it was that anyone would ever manage to capture the right blend of creepy and funny to make a clown horror movie successful in the first place? Just look at the new Stephen King's It design -- it's terrible! And those people are really trying.

Pack those too-scary clowns back in their tiny car and ship them back to that big top in the sky forever.

The Fifth Element (1997)

You may have noticed that a lot of the movies on this list have at least decently compelling arguments for why they should get a remake or sequel. The Fifth Element is one of those simply because of how lush and full the world Luc Besson crafted feels. But the story of The Fifth Element is so complete that what else is there to tell? Nothing. Everything gets wrapped up. The heroes win, the villains die, the day gets saved. Also Corbin and Leeloo get it on while scientists watch. IT'S A COMPLETE STORY, FOLKS. All the cool fashion and flying cars in the world can't make a sequel necessary. Next!

Being John Malkovich (1999)

"Who would even think of franchising Being John Malkovich," is what you're thinking right now. No, I didn't crawl into a hole at the Syfy offices only to enter your brain, that's just a very obvious thing to think. But let me say this to you: Being John Hamm.

See? Now you're thinking about how good that could be. WELL, STOP IT. Slap yourself on the wrist. You've been bad. Yes, now that we're both thinking about it, there are probably a bunch of Johns whose lives might be worth entering fictionally. But nothing is ever going to be as weird or as original or as clever as Being John Malkovich. It's maybe the most original idea anyone has ever had. And even a similarly interesting option for a sequel just wouldn't be as bizarrely riveting as the original.

Or, put another way, Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich.

Troll 2 (1990)

"You can't piss on hospitality," is the moral of Troll 2. But the other lesson I wish people would learn is that, when a movie as bad as Troll 2 becomes a cult classic, you should never try to repeat its success. Don't intentionally set out to make a bad movie, because it will be stilted and forced in a way that isn't funny this time. There's been a rumor for a few years that a Troll 2: Part 2 might happen someday and NO. Do not return to Nilbog. It is a miracle we all managed to escape alive and un-mlant-ified the first time.

By the way, a 'mlant' is a man plant. A man who eats some green goo and becomes half-man, half-plant. And then goblins eat the mlant because that is the natural order of things. And the other natural order of things is that you don't try to make another goblin/mlant movie called Troll. Thank you.